'Phone Sex' Led to Forgery, Suspect Says

Times Staff Writer

A Van Nuys man who told police he ran up huge telephone bills by dialing 976 numbers for "phone sex" messages has been charged with stealing more than $37,000 from his employer to pay the bills.

Jonathan A. Margolis, 25, an employee of a North Hollywood insurance agency, admitted to detectives that he forged his boss' signature on 13 company checks between April 3, 1986, and April 14, 1987, to pay his monthly bills from Pacific Bell, court records show.

When asked by police how he could have run up such bills, he replied, "I would call 976 numbers--sex calls," according to the records. Such calls typically cost $2 and provide a sexually explicit recorded message.

When Margolis was arrested May 12, he had an unsigned company check for $3,189.04 in his wallet and a telephone bill for the same amount, according to Deputy Dist. Atty. Bradford E. Stone.

Suspicious Co-Worker

Margolis, a bookkeeping department employee at Booth & Simpson Insurance Agency, came under suspicion after a co-worker saw him typing out a company check payable to Pacific Bell, Stone said. The worker, who knew the company had just paid its phone bill, notified management.

A review of the company's accounts uncovered 13 previous checks with the vice president's name forged. The checks, totaling $37,738, were credited to Margolis' home phone account, Stone said.

Margolis, who is free on $1,000 bail, was charged Monday with four counts of forgery, one count of grand theft and one count of possessing a blank check with intent to defraud. He is to be arraigned June 2 in Van Nuys Municipal Court.

If convicted on all counts, he could face a maximum of five years and eight months in state prison, Stone said.

A police detective said he believes that Margolis no longer works for the insurance company.

No one was home at Margolis' apartment Tuesday, and his phone has been disconnected.

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